I just finished recording the 6th episode of Breaking Words. Breaking Words is a weekly podcast where I read my poetry and prose pieces, sometimes with a music background and sometimes without. This has been a fun experiment and for the foreseeable future, I plan to continue. For those of you that have listened, I hope you have enjoyed it. Here is the link to Breaking Words: breakingwords.libsyn.com

Unfortunately, I am not a professional at this. My hope is, that I get better with time. Podcasting has become huge over the last ten years and the really great thing I realized, is that anyone can do it. It takes a minimal amount of equipment and a short learning period to get the basics down. What I mean by “minimal equipment” is this: You need a computer with an internet connection, a pair of headphones and a microphone. That’s it! That’s all you need to start a podcast that can be heard the world over. Simple, isn’t it?

The first thing I did, was read a lot of information. I got a couple of books on podcasting, and I read a lot of online articles and watched a lot of You Tube videos. There’s tons of information about podcasting out there, and it’s all free. You will learn about the technical side like how to use a DAW or, Digital Audio Workstation. That’s a fancy name for a recording program. You’ll learn about the different podcast hosting platforms, which are websites that you upload your podcast to for distribution. You’ll learn about microphones for podcasting and about lots of other equipment you can use (but don’t really need) at least to get started. And again, anyone can do this!

One of the first questions I had was, what does it cost? Being newly retired, my income is somewhat limited. I’m not hurting for money but I can’t go out and drop hundreds on new equipment. So that’s an important consideration. Thankfully there is a lot of free stuff for you to take advantage of. Computers and microphones are usually not free of course, but you can certainly find used equipment for a good price. There are some recording programs that are free, like Audacity, which is what I use. It’s a free download and is a really good program. There are also free podcast hosting platforms to upload your podcasts to. Here is the link to the Audacity website.

Next, I needed to figure out what my podcast was going to be about. I had lots of ideas, but the bottom line is this: Your podcast needs to be about something you know well. If you’re going to gain an audience and keep them entertained, you need to talk about something you know and are well informed on. Otherwise listeners won’t stay. A podcast is for entertainment or for information. If you don’t have one of those aspects, you won’t have listeners. Now, as I said earlier, I’m not an expert at this. That only comes with time and practice. My podcast doesn’t have a lot of listeners yet, but it’s growing. Slowly. It can be frustrating at times to see that no one has downloaded an episode for a few days. But what I have learned is that I really enjoy doing this, so I’m going to keep doing it. I can’t expect to be the next world wide phenomena and don’t necessarily want to be. But with time and perseverance I hope to attract more listeners.

Sounds like fun, right? Well it is. One of the advantages in starting to podcast is being a good speaker. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone stumbling over their words, or mispronouncing them, or not being comfortable with speaking. But if you’re not a good speaker, don’t let that stop you. It’s a skill that can be learned! Just like getting comfortable with the equipment, you can learn to speak well too. And the advantage to learning to speak well for podcasting is that you don’t have an audience staring at you. You’re alone! And not only that, but you will learn how to edit your recorded program. You can take out most of the ums and ahs, and all the other filler words we use when we hesitate while speaking. You’re not doing anything live. Although some podcasters do live shows, that is a choice you can make.

So why not start a podcast? It’s a fun hobby that I have found I really enjoy. And it’s a new vehicle for getting my poetry out to people. As any of you who write poetry know, it’s not the most popular form of writing. So any way of getting more people interested is a good thing, right? Listening to podcasts has become very popular over the last few years. Mainly I think, because you can do it while you’re doing something else. People listen to podcasts while driving, or working out. They listen while they’re taking a walk. When you read, you have to invest the time to reading. That’s not always easy in today’s busy world. But if you can listen to a podcast while cooking or commuting or whatever, that’s a real advantage. So people are doing it. There are literally thousands of podcasts on any subject you can think of. Politics, religion, business, comedy, drama, poetry, and anything and everything. the list is endless. So why not start a podcast? That’s a good question.


Breaking Words Episode 4

Hey! Episode 4 is out there baby! Careful listeners will find there is a mix up between what the podcast player says and what I say the episode number is on the podcast. Just ignore it. It is episode 4 even though I say it’s episode 3. I don’t always know what I’m talking about! As most people know, the gun debate, the debate over 2nd amendment rights is a huge thing in then country today. So this first poem, “What if…” is in response to that. Here it is:

What if I was sleeping in my bed,
and you broke into my house?
What if you had a drug problem
and needed to steal for money?

What if I woke up and shot you
with my gun?
My legally acquired, paid for
conceal and carry gun.

Is your life worth less than mine?
What if you have a mother?
Would she cry and say no mother
should have to bury her son?

Do you deserve to die
because you did something foolish?
Do I have the right
to take your life away?

Maybe you have children.
What if I had to face them
and tell them why
I took their daddy away.

What if I believe in God?
And I stand before God on my judgement day.
And God says “You killed one of my children.”
And I say “Yes Lord, but he was trying to steal my T.V.

Yeah, so that’s my commentary on that. This next one, “Steam Was Almost Gone,” has to do with trains, which I have loved since I was little. Northfield has a train yard with 3 or 4 sidings to it right in town. Late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping I could here the switcher engine roaring in the yard, moving box cars around. Northfield had it’s own railroad called, The Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern. That was pretty exciting for me as a kid because I loved trains. So I would listen to them at night in the summer with the windows wide open because it was hot, and even in the Winter you can’t keep the sound out. Here is, “Steam Was Almost Gone:

And the music came through the open window
as I would lie, not sleeping,
as my mother intended.

The screech and squeal of steel on steel.
The engine rumbling up to a roar,
the cars, banging together.

A bill of lading for each
connected together and bound for
well, who knows where?

Carrying what? I didn’t know.
Circus animals? Bombs for the war?
My 11 year old mind full of wonder.

And who drove those trains?
What kind of men were they?
As men they would have to be.

Bib overalls, engineer caps, boots.
Those weren’t things for girls.
They were big, strong, men.

They would shovel that coal,
stoke that boiler and
the steam would pour out the stack.

For maybe, the last time.
The Diesel’s were taking over.
Steam, was almost gone.

As sleep overcame I heard the whistle
and the rumble as the train pulled out.
And I prayed that steam, wasn’t gone.

And this last one, “Minnesota.” All these names were taken right off a Minnesota map. They’re all alphabetized, and that’s why I mention that there are no lakes or towns beginning with “X.” Now I could be wrong about that so if anyone knows of some, please let me know. There are over 11,000 lakes in Minnesota and some don’t even have names or roads to get there! It’s a great place to live. Here is, Minnesota:

I love this state. Conifer and Hardwood forests, rolling hills, farmland and prairie.
There is enough pink and black and white granite to make 10 billion headstones,
but we’re not the Granite state. That’s New Hampshire. We are the land of 10,000 lakes.
More like 15,000. Some don’t have names. For those that do, there are,
Angleworm Lake,
Bad Axe Lake,
Calamity Lake,
Dead Fish Lake,
East Four Legged Lake,
First Dog Lake,
Gibibwisher Lake,
Hanging Horn Lake,
Ice Cracking Lake,
Jock Mock Lake,
Kaapoo Lake,
Little Dead Horse Lake,
Magnetic Lake,
Nameless Lake,
Ox Hide Lake,
Pea Soup lake,
Quick Lake,
Rain Barrel Lake,
Skeleton Lake,
Thirty One Lake,
Unknown Lake,
Vegetable Lake,
Wawa Lake,
No lakes beginning with X,
Yodeler Lake,
and Zig Zag Lake.
And little towns scattered all across the state like,
Antlers Park,
Ball Club,
Ideal Corners,
Key West,
Pigeon Center,
Rattlesnake Point,
Toad Lake,
No towns beginning with X,
and Zerkel.
The town of Rice is not in Rice county, it’s in Benton County.
The town of Faribault is not in Faribault County, It’s in Rice County.
The town of Blue Earth is not in Blue Earth County, It’s in Faribault County.
The town of Becker is not in Becker County, it’s in Sherburne County.
The town of Cook is not in Cook County, it’s in St. Louis County.
The town of St. Louis is not in St. Louis County, it’s in Missouri.
The town of Cottonwood is not in Cottonwood County, it’s in Lyon County.
The town of Grant is not in Grant County, it’s in Ramsey County.
The town of Marshall is not in Marshall County, it’s in Lyon County.
As far as I know, there are no Lions in Lyon County.
And, The Mississippi River does not begin in Mississippi,
it begins in… Minnesota! in Itasca State Park, which by the way, is not in Itasca County.
And last but not least, I hear there is great fishing on Alcohol Creek!

So that’s it for Episode 4! As always, The music for each episode is from the Free Music Archives and the sound effects are from Zapsplat! Thanks for listening.